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What is your “Egypt”?

Studying the Old Testament is not always the easiest thing to do. The Lord knows my heart and that I don’t always “get” what He’s trying to tell me. I have to read, read, and read again. Even then, it’s not always clear.

And from what I can tell, I’m not the only one. When God spoke through His prophets, he repeated himself again, and again, and again so His people would get the message. The passage that illustrates this point today is Jeremiah 42.

The Isrealites ask a prophet to pray for them and ask for God’s direction. They say they’ll do whatever He tells them.

God’s answer (paraphrased) — “Stay put in the land I’ve put you. I’m on your side and you have nothing to be afraid of, even though you are living smack dab in the middle of the enemy’s territory. It’s not where you wanted to be, but I put you there and I’ll protect you. I’ve heard your prayer and I’ll deliver you to where you want to go — in my time. But don’t say you want to go back to Egypt. You’ll die there. I’ll bring calamity on you. Again, do as I say and you’ll be blessed. Stick it out and do what I’ve said. You’ve romanticized where you used to be. But I’ve made it clear — DO NOT GO BACK TO EGYPT.”

(I repeat the above is my paraphrase… Read Jeremiah 42 for the actual wordage!)

So, after reading that passage several times, I asked God what He wanted ME to get out of it. I know what he was telling the Israelites. He repeats it more than 3 times in those verses.

God told the Israelites to NOT go back to Egypt — a physical place of perceived and romanticized comfort and ease. The truth is, they’d been slaves in Egypt, but all they remembered was what they wanted to remember — and were tempted to go back to the place God had saved them from. But what did it mean for me?

What in the world could he be telling me?

The exact same thing He was telling them…

Don’t go back to Egypt. 

If I run to places that God has not told me to go – whether they be physical, emotional, spiritual- they are my “Egypt”.

What is yours?

Do you return to old habits that God has freed you from?

Do you run to old relationships that brought “comfort” for a while… but didn’t bring life?

They are your “Egypt”.

When I’m upset, who do I run to? What do I run to? Where does my mind wander when things aren’t going my way? How about you? If it is anywhere other than God — That is an “Egypt”.

When I’m frustrated and angry, do I air my grievances to others before taking them to the throne? Do I try to find comfort in the world’s view of me and get its approval? How about you? That is an “Egypt”.

When I’m in a place of peace and abundance, do I forget where that peace came from and attribute it to some other source? Friends? Money? Status? Good things happening?  Do I forget to praise God in the good times? Or when I have what I need, but not what I want, do I long for something that is not in God’s plan for me? Do you? If so — we’re running away from God and running toward our “Egypt”.

Do you lay awake at night and worry about things, instead of taking them to God – and leaving those cares with Him? Yup… Egypt.

Do you try to manipulate situations so you get what you want, instead of allowing God to work things out in HIS time? That’s an Egypt, too.

I truly believe that true peace, God’s Shalom, can only be found in Him, regardless of my status in life. But does that mean that I am 100% faithful and never turn my eyes to my “Egypt” instead of Him? Nope. Too many times I’ve run back to old ways of thinking/old habits. But running backwards is not way to win the race. Paul slaps down some truth about this very thing in Philippians 3:12-14 (The Message version):

I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.

That means there’s no time to be running back to Egypt… and no reason to. So why do we keep doing it? Too often we turn back to the things that we used to find comfort in, conveniently forgetting that it is a “right now” comfort, not the “right” comfort.

There is an old Hymn that’s called. Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus. I  had only heard the chorus, but there is more to it. Take note of the second verse and third verse.  If we believe those words to be true, we can rest assured that we don’t need to run back to our “Egypts”.

Here are the lyrics:

  1. O soul, are you weary and troubled?
    No light in the darkness you see?
    There’s light for a look at the Savior,
    And life more abundant and free!

    • Refrain:
      Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
      Look full in His wonderful face,
      And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
      In the light of His glory and grace.
  2. Through death into life everlasting
    He passed, and we follow Him there;
    O’er us sin no more hath dominion—
    For more than conqu’rors we are!
  3. His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
    Believe Him, and all will be well:
    Then go to a world that is dying,
    His perfect salvation to tell!

 

But Jesus is THE comforter. He is THE Healer. He is THE Provider. He is THE Author and Finisher of our faith.

So what are your Egypts? What do you need to leave behind so you can run forward in your faith?

 

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writing for children

Cozy Mystery Saturday

I’ve been steadily submitting my picture books over the last month or so and wanted to work on something else in my queue. So this weekend, I’m working on my cozy mystery!

It’s set in Stonecastle, a small (make-believe) town in NC. I’m revising the first three chapters before I move forward, but hope to get in 2,000 words today and 2,000 tomorrow. That is a HUGE number of words in two days – at least for me. Some folks can write more than that in a day. But I am in the “turtle-writer” category.

How about you? What are you working on? And are you in the slow lane with me or the speeding down the autoban? Either way – make sure you are enjoying it. Life is too precious to miss out on the beauty around you!

sunset closeup
sunset by God…photo by Donna 🙂
writing for children

10 reasons why Irish is an absolutely awesome language

I am learning Irish (slowly) and read as much as I can about it. I came across this article a while back and wanted to share it with you. If you are thinking about trying it, here are sSome reasons to learn Irish if you are so inclined!

Young, Single, Multilingual

Health warning! Learning Irish will open your mind, win you interesting friends and make you attractive to the opposite sex.I have devoted a large chunk of my career to learning Irish, working with Irish and making a living out of Irish. So I thought it would be fair to put together a list of reasons why I think the language is worth it. Mine are proper linguistic reasons though – none of that starry-eyed sentimental nonsense about the language being ‘beautiful’ or ‘romantic’! So, put your language geek hats on, here we go!

(Many of the features mentioned here are actually common to all Celtic languages, including Scottish Gaelic and Welsh, but let’s not be splitting hairs now.)

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writing for children

Happy Resurrection Day

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women came to the tomb, bringing the spices they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb… — Luke 24:1

 

The women arrived with the expectation that the giant stone in front of the tomb would still be in place. When they arrived, it had rolled out of the way.

But if it had not been moved, how did they plan to move it?

I asked my daughters what they thought. They said, “There were guards there. They would have asked them to help.”

I considered that – but I don’t think it is a plausible answer. These were Roman guards — guards who owed nothing to the Jewish women. Even if the women had dared to speak to them, (which I don’t think would have happened), would the Roman guards have agreed to help the women? I don’t think so. They were under no obligation to do so.

The women were under the assumption that Jesus was still DEAD. They weren’t coming expecting the stone to be moved OR for Jesus to have risen. They arrived with anointing oil for his body.

So why did they come without backup help? How did they expect to move the stone? I’ve been praying and asking God to make it clear. I’m sure there are many reasons. But here’s what I’m leaning toward right now, the answer that I hear in my heart…

Even though they knew Jesus was dead — I believe that the women came with EXPECTATIONS.

The truth is, Jesus was dead and they had no way to move the stone.

BUT — they came anyway. 

There was NO plausible way they would be able to anoint Jesus’ body without divine intervention — no way to move the stone on their own and no help to do so —

and they came anyway. They came expecting God to DO SOMETHING to make that happen.

THEY CAME EXPECTING. 

 

Remember when Lazarus died? Mary and Martha were furious and hurt and full of all other sorts of emotions b/c Jesus hadn’t arrived in time like they’d expected Him to do. They had expected Him to come back and heal their brother before he died from the sickness. And when Jesus didn’t, they were distraught. They wept and Jesus wept with them. BUT THEN… when it seemed that all hope was lost, they watched as Jesus raised their brother from the dead.

But this time, it was Jesus in the tomb! Who was going to raise Him from the dead?

They didn’t know —

And they came anyway. They came…

EXPECTING!  

         Provers 13:12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
    but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. *

So what about us? What “stones” in our lives need to be moved to allow us to see the miracle of Jesus’ death-defeating power? His resurrection power? His grace, mercy, and truth? When we ask God to do something, is our faith in line with our requests?

Like the women at the tomb — do we come to Jesus EXPECTING Him to do something?

That’s what faith is. It is the HOPE in things not seen… and EXPECTATION that God will do what God does… He saves. He revives. He makes all things new. He makes a WAY when there is not way. He responds to our pain and hurt in compassion and with truth. HE LOVES.

The empty tomb means that we ALWAYS have help in time of need. The one who raised Lazarus from the dead holds the power over sin and death — and moves whatever needs to be moved.

When we shift our expectations and put our focus on Jesus– God’s plan is revealed and no stone can stand in His way. NONE.

What stones are in your way today? God can and will shake what needs to be moved and shaken…

Come expecting! 

 

 

 

 

writing for children

March 18 is National Awkward Moments Day

(Edited to add: The link has been fixed!)

When we share our opinions with no finesse — it can lead to some pretty awkward moments. Frank knows all about that sort of thing! So in honor of National Awkward Moments Day (March 18), I am giving away two copies of Being Frank. You can enter here: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/63ac062b6337fe81 
The winner will be chosen on March 17. The winner will be chosen randomly by Amazon and will be shipped from Amazon.

 

writing for children

And…. it ended as quickly as it began.

I made it into the Madness Poetry competition… and lost by a small percentage today.

Me: 49.5%

Sherry (the competition): 50.5%

I am a firm believer that all things work out for our good (Romans 8:28)… and I had already decided to be happy with any outcome. My daughter is having oral surgery tomorrow — so had I won, I wasn’t sure how I’d have been able to get it all done. I am super happy for my opponent and will be cheering for her for the rest of the competition!

AND… frankI will try again next year!

writing for children

MADNESS POETRY: I MADE IT IN!

I don’t know if y’all remember last year’s competition, but I made it to round three before losing to the FABULOUS Damon Dean. This year, I made it in, again… and round ONE is currently underway. If you have time and feel inclined, voting for this round ends at 8pm tonight. Choose your fave points and make some “authletes” happy! 🙂

You do have to login to vote, but you can use email or facebook to do so. You’ll see buttons on the page after you click the poems you want to vote for. Thanks so much!

https://madnesspoetry.com/match/innards-1519617433088×852359788026660700